The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that appointment of judges under the newly created National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) would be subject to public scrutiny unlike the opaque collegium system.
Defending the new system, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said: “If there are requirements, as per the Act and rules to be framed, the appointments will be subject to Right To Information (RTI) queries. The public will know why people are selected. In the collegium system that was not there”.
Rohatagi told a constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar, which is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the new law that a citizen can know the bonafides of judges as the criteria for their appointments had to be justified by the new panel if an enquiry is made under the RTI. He requested the bench to let the new system work even as the court sought to know why the NJAC had no provision to overcome a situation where names recommended by the panel is vetoed by two members.
“There are various provisions in the Act which are not clear... Now somebody says I don’t agree what will happen? Here it will come to a standstill,” Justice Khehar said. “Why are we assuming that the veto power is only with the executive or an eminent person? Why are we assuming that the two judges will not veto a name?” Rohtagi said.
There were also deliberations on whether to refer it to a larger bench of 11 judges.